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Defending Matt Borges

March 5th, 2010 Matt Comments

Update @ 11:48 am- Kyle Sisk responds.

I’ve never had quite the amount of email feedback on a post than my two posts about Matt Borges (see here and here). While I’m guilty of using hyperbole as a tool to explain what the APPEARANCE is when Borges works on a campaign, county party leaders, long-time operatives, personal friends of Borges, and even conservative activists were worried that I was going too far in attacking someone who appears to be a talented Republican campaigner. Seth Morgan has truly lit a firestorm here.

I have nothing to apologize for, but I feel compelled to explain.

Click to continue reading “Defending Matt Borges”

Seth Morgan Sends Letter to Dave Yost re: Matt Borges

March 4th, 2010 Matt Comments

I was the first to raise questions about Yost Spokesman Matt Borges. Even though the charges have been expunged and it’s entirely probable that the accusations were politically motivated by Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Bill Mason (who was hoping to become Ohio Auditor), at least $50,000 was illegally transferred! This an image Yost or Borges’ other candidates probably don’t want to be associated with.

Here is Seth Morgan’s letter:

Media Covers Endorsement of Seth Morgan by Controversial Chairman. Yost’s Controversial Spokesman Responds

February 27th, 2010 Matt Comments

From The Plain Dealer:

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Summit County Republican Party Chairman Alex Arshinkoff has thrown his support behind state auditor candidate Seth Morgan, of the Dayton area.

Arshinkoff’s endorsement was announced Thursday, the same day Morgan’s opponent, Dave Yost, picked up an endorsement by the Republican Party in his home county, Delaware.

But Arshinkoff, an influential GOP leader in Northeast Ohio, said Morgan is the best choice for state auditor because his is a certified public accountant with a fresh face and bold ideas.

“Alex is a longstanding, respected leader within the Republican establishment here in Ohio, and to gain his endorsement is truly exciting for this campaign,” said Morgan, who is a representative in the Ohio House.

Matt Borges, spokesman for Yost, said he believes Arshinkoff decided he would support Morgan before Yost entered the auditor’s race in late January.

I’ve explained how Borges was the guy who was ultimately convicted of the corruption in former Treasurer Joe Deters’ office. Even though his record has since been expunged, For Yost to have someone as tainted as Borges to serve as the voice of his campaign is beyond ridiculous.

But what about Chairman Arshinkoff? I’ve never met the man and have been impressed with how he can win more elections in a county than should be possible. But my first introduction to his name was this Cleveland Scene article from July 2003:

It was past 2 a.m. when the kid left the bar and headed for home. Back from college for Christmas, he’d met up with his high school buddies at Annabell’s, a neighborhood watering hole in Akron. Frustrated for reasons that no longer seem important, the 21-year-old Kent State student had been too annoyed to wait for a ride.

It wasn’t long before he wished he had. It had been a white Christmas. The ground was still blanketed, early that morning of December 27, 2002; the air, frigid. Maybe a stranger would give him a lift.

As the kid would later explain in an interview with Scene, he tried to flag down the first car he spotted, a souped-up Mitsubishi, neon underbelly aglow. It didn’t stop. But when the new Audi behind it did, the kid got in.

The driver was a middle-aged white man. Dark hair, well dressed. He asked the kid how he was doing; the kid said OK, then offered a few dollars for gas. The man said not to worry.

The kid told him to take a right at Main Street. But the man didn’t. I’ll get you home, don’t worry about it, the kid remembers him saying. Then the man started rubbing his thigh. Are you gay? he asked. Are you bi? No? Are you sure?

The kid was trying not to freak out. He saw a red light ahead and clicked open his seatbelt, bracing himself for the jump out. But the light flicked to green.

What are you doing? The man asked. Are you nervous?

The kid said no, he was just trying to get comfortable. The man was caressing his thigh, grabbing at his crotch. “I didn’t want to piss him off,” he says. “He could just hit the gas, and I’d be stuck.”

Do you want to make some money? The man asked. The kid laughed weakly and said he had plenty. He was watching the light ahead, willing it to stay red.

The Audi pulled to a stop, and the kid saw his chance. He took off running. The Audi peeled off in a different direction.

Then the kid heard a siren. An Akron patrolman had witnessed his desperate departure, according to the police report. The cop stopped the car and questioned the driver. The man told him he’d picked the kid up, but he was too drunk and had hopped out.

But the kid, fearing trouble, doubled back to the cop car. Gasping for breath, he relayed his version. The man had tried to touch him, he said. He had to run. “You can arrest me for anything you want right now,” he remembers saying.

The cop took the driver’s information and let him go. Then he told the kid to relax, something like “What are you doing getting into a stranger’s car, anyway?” He offered to take the kid home.

Then a second black-and-white pulled up. The officer gestured at the departing Audi with its ARA 1 vanity plate. “Do you know who that was?” the kid heard him ask. “That was Alex Arshinkoff. He’s the chair of the county Republican Party.”

“My stomach just dropped,” the kid says.

Weeeeeeeeird.

And while to say he political enemies in Summit County is an understatement, there are way too many stories about him regarding ethical, moral, and legal questions to not believe something is odd in the Summit County GOP.

And Arsnikoff has a long history of using the Auditor’s office, dating back to his well-known feud with former Gubernatorial candidate Jim Petro. Petro, as Auditor, refused to call off the auditing of two of Arshinkoff’s close friends. (And later, as Attorney General, Petro did not allow Arshinkoff to name special counsel contracts for Summit County.)

But what I can’t figure out for the life of me is what’s going on in this endorsement. I understand Chairman Arshinkoff almost became the GOP Chairman with George Voinovich’s help, so perhaps he wants to undermine the Ohio GOP and take another run for it?

This endorsement does not fit at all with Seth Morgan’s outsider, TEA party image. Party bosses are often needed to win, but it’s always important for conservatives to be acutely aware as to what goes on behind the scenes.

[This post has been edited, as I think my lazy speculation was wrong.]

Yost/Morgan Campaign Update

February 24th, 2010 Matt Comments

This morning, the Seth Morgan for Ohio Auditor campaign sent out a press release noting they were endorsed by Family First PAC:

Auditor of State candidate Seth Morgan, CPA was endorsed by Family First PAC for Auditor of State.

“Family First is honored to endorse Representative Seth Morgan CPA for Auditor of State. Seth Morgan has a proven record on the issues of limited government, school choice, pro-life, the sanctity of marriage, and responsible spending and taxation,” said Lori Viars, Executive Director of Family First.

“Seth has proven himself as a solid fiscal conservative and social conservative, as well as a man of integrity. With his credentials and experience as a CPA, Ohioans could not ask for a more qualified watchdog for our tax dollars,” Viars said.

Family First is a conservative political action committee serving Ohio and Northern Kentucky. More info can be found at www.familyfirstpac.org.

In other news, I’m quite concerned that Dave Yost’s campaign spokesman is Matt Borges. He recently worked on the John McCain campaign for President and has worked with Congressman John Boehner, but he is most famous for his role in the scandals that took place in the office of former Ohio Treasurer Joe Deters (Deters is now the Hamilton Count Prosecutor).

I don’t point this out, Seth Morgan and David Pepper would be more than happy to.

This is from The Cincinnati Enquirer (July 28, 2004):

COLUMBUS – Two top associates of state Treasurer Joseph Deters pleaded guilty Tuesday to misdemeanor charges involving campaign fund raising.

The guilty pleas of former Deters chief-of-staff Matthew Borges and former fund-raiser Eric Sagun conclude a year-long investigation by a grand jury in Cuyahoga County that threatened Deters’ ambitions to run for attorney general in 2006.

Deters, a former Hamilton County prosecutor and county Republican Party chairman, testified before the grand jury in June and will not face criminal charges, said Thomas Sammon, special Cuyahoga County prosecutor assigned to investigate the case.

Borges, 32, of Columbus pleaded guilty to one count of improper use of public office, a misdemeanor, and was fined $1,000 by Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Judge Eileen Gallagher. Court documents said he gave preferential treatment to certain brokers who made contributions to Deters’ re-election campaign.

Sagun, 35, of Columbus pleaded guilty to one count of election law violations and was fined $5,000.

Court documents said he solicited a $50,000 donation from Cleveland broker Frank Gruttadauria in December 2001 for the Hamilton County Republican Party when the two intended the money to benefit Deters’ re-election campaign.

At the time, Sagun was raising money for Deters and the Hamilton County Republican Party.

Gruttadauria is in prison for bilking his clients out of $125 million.

He has admitted masking the donation to Deters by running it through the county party’s operating fund – a secret account that can accept unlimited, undisclosed donations.

He also admitted to repaying clients and employees $7,000 for donations they made to Deters’ campaign.[...]

Sammon, who worked out the plea agreements, said if Borges is so convinced of his innocence, he should vacate his plea and go to trial.

“He pled guilty and is admitting to the charges,” he said. “How is he now saying he only did this for convenience sake?”

SG Cowen Corp. and Lehman Brothers Inc. hired Gruttadauria, and from 1999 to 2001 they did a combined $5.9 billion in investment trades with Deters’ office.

“If one reads what (Borges) admitted doing, he used the power of his office to gain favorable treatment for vendors that did business with the office,” Sammon said.

“To me, that’s a very serious offense.”

An attorney for Sagun did not return messages seeking comment.

Deters issued a one-sentence statement.

“I feel badly for Matt and Eric, but I understand why they wanted to bring this matter to an end,” Deters said.

I am all for redemption and second chances in life. Every one in life, at some point, sins and falls short of expectations.

But I don’t think you should get this type of second chance in public life if you are out there accepting $50,000 of kickbacks on behalf of state wide officials. And this was only what they could prove in court- PACs were set up to funnel in hundreds of thousands of dollars for firms that wanted to handle the tobacco money (the same money which Strickland is squandering), Firth Third Securities was fined $1 million for pay-to-play which also included $250,000 of donations in employee contributions to Deters, and 5 Columbus brokers exchanged $125,000 in campaign contributions for millions in state contracts. What happened in Joe Deters’ office, over and over again, was criminal, and certainly added to the toxic climate for Republicans that would eventually sweep them out of all but one state-wide office and out of the Ohio House majority in 2006.

The rumor is that this job was arranged by Jo Ann Davidson and the Franklin County GOP Chairman as a way to attempt to control Yost’s office if he is successful in November against the spoiled brat rich boy David Pepper. Other party insiders think that is a huge stretch to assume.

What would Borges end up being in the Auditor’s office? Yost’s official bribe taker? Dave Yost has such a fantastic record of fighting crime as a prosecutor and ensuring his office is run with the highest ethical scandals… so he really couldn’t have found someone more counter to his principles than Matt Borges.

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